NCAA Women's Hockey: 2024 NCAA Frozen Four Semifinals recaps
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NCAA Women's Hockey: 2024 NCAA Frozen Four Semifinals recaps

NCAA Women's Hockey: 2024 NCAA Frozen Four Semifinals recaps by Nicole Haase

Ohio State 4, Clarkson 1

Clarkson scored first, just 2:25 into the game, surprising most everyone, but especially Ohio State, who said they started the game playing not to lose instead of playing to win. They were uncharacteristic nerves for the Buckeyes, who coach Nadine Muzerall said in the pre-tournament media day shouldn't feel nervousness, just excitement because they were fully prepared for this weekend.

Ohio State began to push back and Makenna Webster evened the score late in the first when the Buckeyes forced a turnover in the Clarkson defensive end, putting Webster in alone on Michelle Pasiechnyk, who she beat through the five hole.

But Clarkson stayed buckled down. The ended the game with 29 blocks as every person on the team worked to keep the score tied and look for a chance to get the go-ahead goal. Coach Matt Desrosiers said his team knew they'd need to weather some storms and he was really happy with how they defended and worked to move the puck up ice. And they pushed back in the second, where the shot margin was the closest - 16-11 in favor of the Buckeyes.

In the third, Clarkson have just two shots on goal as the Buckeyes picked it up a notch and found the go-ahead goal with about six minutes to play as Sloan Matthews was able to put back a rare rebound on a shot from Riley Brengman to make it a 2-1 game. Rookie of the Year Joy Dunne doubled the lead with three minutes to play with a wicked shot from the faceoff circle that she said was something she practiced hundreds of times throughout the year.

Clarkson pulled the goalie at that point looking for another of the 6 on 5 last minute goals that had become their hallmark this season, but Ohio State withstood the push and Hadley Hartmetz added an empty-net goal to secure the 4-1 win.

What We Learned

  • Underrated – Let me be first in line to say that I underestimated Clarkson this season and coming into this game. I was worried that Ohio State would put so much pressure on them that they'd struggle to mount much offensive, but from the start they handled the Buckeye's forecheck and countered well and scored first. My apologies to the Golden Knights - it wasn't about you, I'd just seen what Ohio State does to teams. Absolute kudos for a hell of a game.
  • Keep chipping away – OSU took this game because of their persistence. Joy Dunne said her team approached every shift like it was the first one of the game and kept their confidence that they were getting opportunities and one of them would eventually go in. They adapted and found ways to pick the Clarkson defense apart. Sloane Matthews said they knew they'd either find a hole in the defense or the defense would fatigue from blocking shots.
  • Adapt and move on – Ohio State came out timid in this game, but the early Clarkson goal shook them up and they were able to change their approach and mentality as the game progressed. They were the top team in the country this season and it took them a minute to remember that, but they eventually rested on the work they put in all season to get them to this point.

Standout performances

  • Ohio State defender Cayla Barnes – She was a force on both defense and offense, tying for the team lead with three blocks and was among the team leaders with three shots. Her speed kept Clarkson in check when they tried a quick break and felt like she was everywhere on the ice.
  • Clarkson goalie Michelle Pasiechnyk – The newly-named Goalie of the Year lived up to the hype on Friday. She was active, quick with her glove and absolutely kept her team in the game throughout. She had Ohio State frustrated and rethinking their approach as they looked for opportunities to get the puck to the net.


“We had so many shots that they were literally laying their body on the line so we went into it thinking that we just need to keep shooting because they're going to get through eventually or we're going to hit them enough that they might move out of the way and then it will go in." - Ohio State forward Sloane Matthews

"Going into the game, a reminder I got was that at the end of the day, this was just another game. Our team has been building for this." - Ohio State forward Joy Dunne

"They score often 6-on-5. They punch back really well with the 6-on-5." - Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall

"[A focus was] limiting odd-player rushes. Yes, we’re going to play relentless, but we need to be smart with our relentlessness. Being intentional and purposeful with how we do that. With awareness and tracking." - Muzerall

"There were opportunities for us there to take that game. I like the way our team played. We stuck to the game plan. That was exactly the type of game we needed to play and wanted to play." - Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers

"You need to be able to possibly take some risks - getting your defenseman up into the play, allowing them to make plays that flew lines, because they know if we make mistakes - and hockey is a game of mistakes and they're going to happen - to know that you have a goaltender like Michelle behind you that's going to be able to make those big saves like she has time and time again. She just gives your team a ton of confidence to play with." - Desrosiers on Michelle Pasiechnyk

Wisconsin 3, Colgate 1

This was a physical, hard-fought game that featured nine penalties and no power play goals. The goalies on both ends were outstanding, particularly Wisconsin's Ava McNaughton, a rookie who split time in net until the WCHA title game, when she took over the full time role.

The teams pushed at each other and looked for openings through the first ten minutes, then Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist Kirsten Simms found herself with a lot of open ice - a rarity in this game - and took advantage to give Wisconsin the 1-0 lead late in the opening frame.

Colgate coach Greg Fargo said after the game that he could already look back and see some opportunities his team let slip through their grasp, most particularly a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play, which came after a long delayed penalty situation. The Raiders were not able to generate much dangerous on the two-player advantage and Wisconsin killed it, gaining a ton of confidence and momentum.

Midway through the third, defender Vivian Jungels, who had just four goals all season, stepped up into the offensive play as the puck had players overloaded on the near boards, leaving room for her to get a cross-ice pass from Britta Curl, cradle it and whip it on net from the far faceoff dot to give Wisconsin the 2-0 lead.

Colgate pulled their goalie early and were able to snag a goal back when Kalty Kaltounkova put away a puck that moved through the crease and found her open at the back door to make it 2-1.

But Laila Edwards beat a defender and took the puck the length of the ice in the final minute to score an empty-netter and give Wisconsin the 3-1 win.

What We Learned

  • Block party – Wisconsin finished the game with 24 blocked shots led by four each from forward captain Britta Curl and defender Chayla Edwards. Overall, they kept Colgate to just 26 shots on goal, 15 of which came in the final frame.
  • Killing time – The biggest two minutes of the game came in the second period when the Badgers killed the 5-on-3. It disheartened the Raiders and bolstered Wisconsin. They seemed to know, once they killed it, that the game was theirs to take. There were some iffy moments from the defense with sloppy passes or clears, but generally, the Badgers had the lead and the confidence and that made the difference in the end.

Standout performances

  • Wisconsin freshman goalie Ava McNaughton - She split time for much of the season which helped keep her fresh, but she's been the main goalie in the postseason and has absolutely stepped up to the challenge. Not only are they high-stakes games against top-tier opponents, but they come with a lot of extras that players have to manage and McNaughton has not run this gauntlet before, but she hasn't looked uncertain or incapable at any point. She made several point blank saves on Friday, never looked rattled and frankly bailed out her teammates a few different times. There is no doubt that the team could not have advanced this far without her steady presence the last few weeks.
  • Colgate sophomore forward Elyssa Biederman - She was one of the most dynamic players on the ice in the semifinal, using her speed and puckhandling to weave around defenders and get in on the net. She stood out several times throughout the game as she moved through the zones. Biederman advanced her game this season and is going to be an important player for Colgate's future growth.


“The thing as a team you have to focus in on is doing things that are going to help you keep the puck out of the net. Obviously tonight we blocked a lot of shots and give the players a lot of credit for doing that because it's not an easy job. It's not an easy task, especially on the five on three in the second period," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson

"Chances are you're gonna have to block a bunch of shots and your goalie is going to have to make some saves. They're going to get some opportunities. So we got challenged and we accepted the challenge in a lot of different areas and came through strong." - Johnson

"There are times, especially at this time of the season, these teams are good, they have good players, they're going to get scoring opportunities. How can you nullify those? If you have a group of players collectively willing to do those things, you can eliminate some of those scoring chances and the puck getting to your goaltender." - Johnson on his team's defending

"It started with our D zone today. Our D zone was super solid from start to finish, from blocking shots and getting the puck out to just little chips and stuff. The energy coming into the third period and just kind of how our team came collectively in that third to just know that we're gonna finish it out. We knew what we needed to do to close it out." - Wisconsin forward Kirsten Simms

"There are obviously mixed emotions to be up here. First of all, I'm just incredibly proud of our team's effort tonight and all season long, frankly. I thought tonight's game was really indicative of how our team has played all year. I think right from the very start, we we went for it and I liked the way that we played. It was a great hockey game. I think the more time goes on, the more we'll look back and be proud of our effort tonight and the season that we had. Hats off to Wisconsin on advancing. They played a great game as well. It was just a really good college hockey game tonight and one team had to come out on top." - Colgate coach Greg Fargo

"When you get to this stage, you think you're not going to get too many looks and and tonight we did get a handful of looks. The five on three was, looking back on it, it was a key moment of the game where he wished we could have gotten at least one there to tie it up, but I thought Wisconsin did a really good job of blocking shots all night." - Fargo

"Five years is a long time to spend my life at some place, but they obviously mean the world to me. I can't really find the words for it right now. But these past five years have been the greatest five years of my life. I'm so fortunate for the people I've met along the way, whether that's my teammates, coaches, people in the community. I'm going to look back on my career here and just be so fortunate and grateful to have chosen a place like Colgate. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to represent Colgate University and be surrounded by outstanding people every single day." - Colgate forward Danielle Serdachny